A capillary method has been developed to measure the rate of water transmission through polyurethane membranes prepared for use as ventricles in artificial hearts. The system consisted primarily of a leak-proof sample chamber containing the water, a glass capillary flow meter, and a receiver compartment with continuous dry air ventilation. The capillary flow meter monitored the volume of water loss in the sample chamber. The rate of water transmission through the test membrane was found to be proportional to the water loss in the sample chamber, and dependent on the membrane thickness. For thicknesses from 0.09 mm to 0.34 mm, water vapor transmission rates ranged from 7.53 χ 10-8 to 2.76 χ 10-8 mol/s cm2, respectively. Although the concentration of water vapor in the receiver compartment did affect the rate of water vapor transmission through the membrane, within the pressure range 50–200 mmHg, there was very little effect. These findings suggest that water transmission through a polyurethane membrane is dominated by a diffusion process rather than by bulk convection.
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